Saturday, July 30, 2011

TBR Challenge: Kraken

The Book: Kraken by China Mieville

The Particulars: Del Rey books, 2010, hardback, in print and available as an e-book.

Why was it in my TBR pile? I used to belong to the Science Fiction Book Club. Last June or July or August or so, the book turned up in my mailbox, and when I opened it, thinking it was something else, it looked intriguing enough that I kept it (and paid for it). It only took me a year to get around to reading it. ;)

The Review:  This was an interesting, but weird, book. It's about the end of the world, how it comes about because a preserved giant squid is stolen from a museum. Or does it? It's about belief, and magic, and things like that--how they feed off each other. About noticing things, and about trust and evil and--oh, all sorts of things. It's funny, and scary, and it took me a long while to read, because I could put it down--but I always had to pick it back up again. Very interesting book. A good read.

Yes, my TBR book for July was about a giant squid. A dead giant squid, causing the end of the world. A truly strange read--but oddly fitting for what apparently was July's theme: Fairy tales. Okay, I can't think of any fairy tales about giant squid, right offhand, but it sounds fairy-tale-ish.

So. There is my review. Yes, it's short, but Kraken is almost impossible to boil down to anything longer than a paragraph. You either have to re-tell the whole frickin' story, or you have to just... boil.

And now: DAY 13!!!! I wrote enough I can take tomorrow off if I need to--which I probably will, but might not, since the story is really starting to percolate in my head. We will see how it goes.

And I have counted up--so far, I have read 31 books this month. Have not put them all into GoodReads yet, but I'm working on it. Just so I can whittle the 600+ books on my TBR list down a bit.

Today was a lazy, reading day. I finished Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, and also read A Lady's Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran and Red's Hot Honky Tonk Bar by Pamela Morsi. I liked them all, but really liked the last two a lot.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Come this way, Tropical Storm Don!

Well, looks like Tropical Storm Don will be heading to Texas south of Corpus Christi--or thereabouts. However, we have benefited a little. It rained really hard for about 20 minutes this afternoon. And sorta hard for about 5 minutes this morning. Yeah, I know Corpus needs the rain as bad as we do. Pretty much ALL of Texas needs the rain as bad as we do. (I think there are about 5 counties north of DFW that are only in a mild drought, instead of extreme drought, like the rest of us.) But we really want more rain here, and 60 mph winds? Pfft! We used to get 70 mph straight-line winds on a regular basis up in the Panhandle. Tropical storm-strength winds aren't going to raise many roofs.

Yeah, you know the drought's bad when you're hoping for a hurricane. (But only a level 1.)

I did get my pages written this a.m. I'm still on track. If I'd started earlier, I might've gone more than 3 pages. But I did get 3, so I am on DAY 12.

I will take Sunday off from writing this week, I think. A friend of the boy's will be here Sunday night to stay for a bit, so I need to clean up the office, etc. Find a place where she can put her suitcase... That sort of thing.

Oh, I remember what else I was going to say. I missed my TBR review this month, because that was the week the grandboys were here. I did read a book for the TBR: KRAKEN by China Mieville. I shall do a post for it tomorrow.

This past week, I've read several books. I am currently reading CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare. It's interesting. I'm enjoying it so far. Otherwise, I've caught up on Eileen Wilks's series by reading both Blood Magic and Blood Challenge, so I'm ready for the new one this fall. I've read both THE HEIR and THE SOLDIER by Grace Burrowes. Liked all of them. I'm just trying to make it to the library before my books are due. Sometime next week, I think. Tuesday? The Clare book is from the library...

Need to go catch up on GoodReads. I keep getting ahead of myself.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Double Digits

Okay, so yesterday was Day 10, when I got myself back into double-digit writing days again. But DAY 11 is still double digits. My goal is 100 words for 100 days, but my new interim goal is Day 20. I aim to make it there, because I haven't yet done 20 days in a row without missing one. (You know the deal about taking a day off--I can count ONE day off a week as a writing day if I designate it ahead of time, and I write 200 words the day before.)

I am also writing more than 100 words. I've made it to 3 pages for 3 days in a row, and I'm actually breaking the rules, because I'm not supposed to brag about how much over the 100 words I've gone--but I'm going to do it here, because I'm just bragging to y'all. And there was a time I could write 6 pages a day. I am trying to get back up to that point--and hopefully build beyond it.

I am also trying to get two to three additional things done per day from my list of "things to do." Like going by the optometrist to order a new pair of prescription sunglasses, or get stinkin' Comcast to fix my e-mail. I had trouble getting it set up on the last computer, called and worked with them for about an hour when I got this new computer, and it still doesn't work. It's an alternate address, but it's an important alternate address, and I really need access to it. Sigh. I just know it's going to take HOURS on the phone with them. I haven't done those things yet, though. (sigh again)

Today, I took care of my Target list and ran by Marshall's (It's so cool that there's one on the island!) to see if I could pick up a few things without having to drive all the way to mainland stores. I needed a new purse. I'm one of those who carries the same purse until it falls apart--and the purse I bought sometime around Christmas was reaching that point. Usually they last me a year or so, but that one closed with a magnetic snap that was attached to fabric, which meant that eventually the fabric would tear from the stress of being yanked open all the time--which it did. I also needed new houseshoes and another round tablecloth for the breakfast room for similar reasons. (Things falling apart.)

I found houseshoes for $4--they're white and will probably be instantly filthy, but hey--they cost $4! (And they fit and are comfy. Sometimes it's nice having big feet.) Found a tablecloth for $10, a pair of cute and comfortable sandals for $20 (Cute and comfortable shoes are always on the "to buy" list, right?) (And these were actual leather!), and a turquoise purse for $14.

I had admired another woman's aqua purse while I was at the junior college conference in Horseshoe Bay, and thought I could carry one that color, because it would go (more or less) with everything I own. I do not change purses, except when one dies and I get a new one, because inevitably I would forget to put something important (like glasses or wallet) in one, and get myself into trouble. Tonight is the Purse Transfer moment, as it is still empty--even of the paper stuffing. I will put that on my list, so I can cross it off. I get all excited when I can find what I need for cheap prices. Don't you? Found any bargains lately?

I have an editing job to do by next week. My first official copyedit from Carina Press. I'm all excited.

Have to go up to the mainland to the dermatologist on Monday (I'll drive up there so I don't have to wait till September), so I can shop up there without having to make a special trip. That will be fun too. I no longer shop till I drop (or maybe it's just that my drop point hits sooner), but I do on occasion enjoy it. :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"How to Write"

So. It's Wednesday, and I was going to post a blog on a writing topic. I have a draft saved in my draft folder titled "POV, etc." Problem is, I don't remember what I was going to say about POV, and I didn't leave myself any hints in the draft file.

When I was out walking this morning, I was thinking about POV and what I might have wanted to say about it. Like: "POV is a very useful thing." And: "Here's a slick way to change from one POV to another without the reader noticing--I figured it out on my own, but I learned later that it's the same method Suzanne Brockmann uses."

And I will share that with you eventually, but not today. Because that got me to thinking about all the articles and workshops and books and software that are all intended to teach people how to write. There's a buttload of it out there. And most of it is good stuff. There are little tricks and techniques that can be learned. I've learned a lot of them, but when you're in the flow--when the story is really coming and you're getting it down easily and your characters are talking to you and doing their own thing--a lot of times those techniques fall by the way, unless you've internalized them. Unless they just come automatically while you're "blowing and going." And that usually doesn't happen until you've had a lot of practice in writing stuff.

The thing is--there's a million ways to write. Some people plan everything out ahead, some plan nothing, some fall in between the two extremes. Some write a single draft (or nearly) and others write multiple drafts, adding in layers every time. And they're all right. And it's hard for the people who write one way to explain how they write to someone who writes another way.

I have a dear friend who is also a writer, who is often telling me "You have such great characters. How do you come up with characters like that?" And I have no idea how to explain it to her. Because I don't actually "come up" with them. I get to know them, like I get to know people in real life.

I use the Enneagram with my characters, because it's such an in-depth system. But I don't select the type and then construct my character to fit. I get to know the character, and then decide what type best fits them. Many times, I've thought a particular character was one type, and discovered later they weren't any such thing. I can't push a character into a mold I'd like them to fit. They just won't go. But when I tried to explain this to my friend, she couldn't quite get it. This is because--in the Meyers-Briggs system--she is a sensor (senser?) and I am an intuitive. (We're opposites, except that we're both introverts.) I do a fair number of things without quite knowing how I do them.

So, I guess what I'm saying here is that you never know what kind of writing advice / technique / knowledge will or will not work for you. Just because someone is a fabulous writer who's sold a bazillion books and made bestseller lists, it doesn't mean that they can tell you how to write. Nor does it mean they can't.

Stephen King's writing book is holy writ for some people. Didn't do a thing for me. I don't write that way, and I absolutely do not buy it when Stevio says that people who write differently are somehow hacks or lesser beings. (And if that's not how you interpreted what he said, fine.) What works for you is what works for you.

And how are you going to know what works for you if you don't try it?

Maybe King's method does work for you. Give it a whirl. Try it all. Just remember that trying it means WRITING. You can't know what works if you're not writing, and writing and writing.

I know that I hate multiple drafts. I'd rather write it all in one big swoopy slog. Once. Other people can't do it that way, but I hate doing it their way, and the One Time works for me.

I also know that it's not technically one draft, because I write my first draft in longhand. So my second draft is when I type it in. I don't make a whole lot of changes when I type it in--mostly I cut out chit-chat and make a lot of notes for later of things I need to add or cut out or clean up, and then when I print it all out, I make those cuts and corrections. I like hard copy because then I can look at multiple pages all at one time, without going blind. (Every time you add a page to your screen, the type gets littler--and I'm kinda blind to start with.)

I know that I have to have a minimal outline--a one-page Hero's Journey or Beat Sheet with the main plot points on it. But it makes me crazy to go into more detail than that. Which makes me fall somewhere in the middle on the plotter-pantser scale.

I know that notecards and storyboards usually don't work very well for me. I'm apparently not that visual. (I don't do those really cool collage boards either, though I'd like to.)

I'm a linear writer--I start at the beginning and work my way through, so having notecards with story scenes that I'm moving around makes no sense to me. The scene happens in that spot because of what's come before, and it can't happen anywhere else. I can't even outline out of order.

This is how I work (and I'm not even talking about characters, here, which is a whole other thing)--and if that helps you in any way--if it allows you to say--"Oh, I get that!" or "So it's okay that I don't get storyboards?"--then I have accomplished my purpose. Which has been to say--look at all the writing helps out there, AS LONG AS YOU KEEP WRITING. That's the main thing. Keep Writing!!!

That said, I did get my writing done today. THREE pages!! (which is ... hmm, 100 words is about half a page, so that makes 600 words?) Go me! DAY 10!

I'm late for getting downtown to sing with the band, so I'd better run.

Oh--the picture is from Stone House Vineyard in central Texas. I think the address is Marble Falls, but it might be Spicewood. Not sure. Anyway--I was there on a royally hot day, so I thought I'd share the picture with you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Falling down on the blogging job

The grandkids were here. I just did not make it to the computer to type in a blog. I also did not take many pictures. (sigh) (That picture is of the view from our hotel room in Horseshoe Bay, which is where we went the day after my last day at work.) (I know. I am a bad blogger.)

I did write--most of the days. I forgot Saturday, last week. The day the boys arrived. I actually did write on Thursday--Schlitterbahn day--and on Tuesday, when we went up to Houston to the Children's Museum (TOTALLY worth going to, but from here, you have to plan at least a whole afternoon, because it takes an hour to get there) (and an hour to get home again). Tuesday was also my RWA chapter meeting day. I left from the museum to drive there. It went really well. (Whew!) Meetings can be a little stressful when one is the program person. :)

The boys went home Sunday noon. I am now officially self-employed, and I need to get busy on that employment. The writing is a large part of it, and I'm doing pretty well on the writing. I am on DAY 9! (Go me!!)

I also need to do things like build a new website for my editing, and learn how to format books and make covers and stuff like that. It's going to be a busy few weeks, I think.

Tomorrow, I'm going to write a blog post about writing. I am going to try to do writing posts on Wednesdays, because the Ws match. :) The rest of the time--it's going to be about stuff.

Like the drought. It's bad. I know it's been up in the 100s over most of the country, which is horrible. It's been that way here in Texas since--oh, May or so. Everything is drying up.

On the way to Horseshoe Bay, we crossed the Pedernales River (which is pronounced Perdnales, for some reason--probably that we're ornery Texans). Those are not houses down in that "pretty valley." Those are boat docks. On the bottom of the river. I imagine it's as green as it is, because that's the river bottom, and there are a few puddles down there... Now, Texans have a persistent habit of looking to see whether there's any water in the river any time we cross a bridge (I sometimes even catch myself looking even when crossing the causeway over Galveston Bay). But usually--unless it's the Red River--they don't look like that. This is a really bad drought, y'all. We're thinking it's going to take a serious tropical storm to break it. Pray for rain, y'all--but not too much of it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Quick Post - Day 6

Got my pages done. Enough that I can take tomorrow off if I need to. But if I can write tomorrow, I probably will, because there may be an activity planned for Thursday. We'll see. The story is going well. :)

Last day

Last one at the dayjob, anyway. I have enjoyed working at The Daily News. Of course, I'm such an introvert, I haven't really got to know everyone as much as I might have. And I've really missed the Brit since he got laid off in January. Since he left, it's just been easier to wrap myself up in the job and the Internet and not mingle so much. Of course, these days most of the reporters, etc. are 30 years or more younger than me, so... And yeah, most of the stuff I do doesn't show up online, since "Applause" is so photo-heavy. I've spend half my days putting pictures of people donating stuff and/or getting awards into the computer system, and most of the other half cleaning up letters to the editor and thinking up snarky headlines (most of which get used, to my amusement) as part of putting things into the computer.

It won't be a whole lot different, copyediting for Carina--except the grammar and punctuation should be a whole lot better. I don't expect that Carina Press accepts much that's been written in all caps. Or without any caps. Or punctuation. Or things with two periods here, and none on the next sentence--because, hey--there was an extra on the last one! Or anything that has "leopolds" that "don't change their strips."

Tomorrow, the fella and I are going to Marble Falls (that's in Texas) for a conference of his--which is why today's my last day--so I think I'm going to try to get extra words, in case I don't get any written tomorrow. But tomorrow might not be my day off. I might need to take Thursday. I'm making contingency plans to take one day or the other off. I'll have to work really hard this next week to get my 100 words done every day--because the grandboys are coming the day we get home, and Pirate Week at SeaCamp starts Monday. However, there IS the time they'll be at SeaCamp. :) That said, I did get up to


Yes, I wrote my 100 words yesterday. I probably could have written more, but there was a lot of other stuff I needed to do in my office (which did not include cleaning it up... sigh), so I did that.

Okay, gotta run.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 4 - Again

This morning, someone said that it takes about six weeks to thoroughly establish a new habit, which is why most people don't manage it...because they don't make six weeks. I made about two, so I've got a ways to go. Still, I wrote today. I made it to DAY 4.

And today, I wrote actual words on my story. I wrote the opening scene. My Post-It Note scene board is kinda thin--but that's okay with me. I'm writing a novella. If I filled it up, I'd have a novel. I'm really good at expanding on what I have. I am a "taker-outer"--amongst all the other divisions in the writing world, like plotter and pantser and puzzler, someone has divided writers into "putter-inners" and "taker-outers." A taker-outer writes long, then cuts to size. Anyway, I wrote actual words. So I'm good.

Now, on to more interesting stuff... or other stuff that's interesting to me, anyway...

I went out walking yesterday morning. Shoulda probably gone out this evening, but haven't yet, and the sun's going down. Anyway, I was impressed by all the umbrellas they were putting out. The past couple of years, they only put umbrellas to the left of where I reach the seawall. Saturday morning, they put a double row to the left, but they had a whole row off to the right. Not sure you can see them in this picture, but there's a row of little blue dots just past the lifeguard stand. More folks have been coming to Galveston this year.

So have the pelicans. I know I've talked about how many pelicans there are...but this time, I've got proof! And I forgot to share it back when I got it.

While we were sitting out on the seawall on July 4, waiting for the sun to go down, the pelicans were flying out to the Gulf from --I think Deer Island is where they nest. I can point to it from the causeway, but am never sure of the name. They really come out in force at dusk and dawn. So they were flying over in big numbers.

Pelicans like to fly in lines. Usually, they're in straight lines, not the Vs like geese, but if enough of them line up, sometimes, they'll make a V. And most of the time, they're in lines of three or four up to about 15 pelicans. Being such big birds, and flying in straight lines like that, they're fairly easy to count, so when I saw a Big V of pelicans flying by Monday night, I counted them. And wow! That line had 24 pelicans--a full two dozen! I counted several other lines of 10 and 12 birds, and several of one or two. Then came the big momma V... 45 pelicans. Forty. Five. All in one bunch. I'm pretty sure these were all different pelicans, not the same ones circling round, because they were all--every single one--flying west to east, heading up the island and gradually out over the water. Like they came out one way, and went home another. It was soooooooo cool!

Now this picture, I took yesterday in hopes that y'all (and me) could see the color change in the water. It goes from greenish to blue a ways out there... but it doesn't really show that well, does it? Oh well. Still, it's pretty cool that this is just a block or so from my house...

Oh! And one more bit of news. I mentioned, didn't I, that I had received "signs from the universe" and that I'll be leaving the day job? (Two more days, and I'm heading to Marble Falls with the fella for him to go to a conference, and me to go...write.) I applied to do some freelance copyediting with a publisher but hadn't heard if I had it for sure, when I resigned. Well, I got the job. I will be doing copyediting for Carina Press, which is the e-first publisher for Harlequin Ltd. Contract's signed, "preference" list is turned in (I turned down horror and thriller and things like that, because I am a wimp), and I'm all ready to go. I'm excited.

Also, I've been on a bit of a reading binge. (I did go to the library.) I finished NATIVE STAR by Hobson. I have read DREAMS OF A DARK WARRIOR by Kresley Cole (good), and THE BIKINI CAR WASH by Pamela Morsi (good), and HARD FALL by James Buchanan. I may have read something else in there, but I don't remember, if I did. I'm started on both SILK IS FOR SEDUCTION by Loretta Chase and JUST LIKE HEAVEN by Julia Quinn. I think I'm more in a Quinn mood, so I'll probably finish it first. And with the trip to Marble Falls later this week, I ought to be able to read more.

I'm going to have to plan out my "no writing day"--see which day I'll have more busyness...

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Tarot cards as plot developer

Holy crap, y'all-- I have used Tarot cards in my writing before. A lot. I use them to do character readings, so I can look deeper into my characters. I use them for GMC (goal, motivation and conflict--but y'all know that, right?). But I do not think they have EVER done such an amazing job for me.

See, after I wrote on Thursday, I took a hard look at my story thus far, and realized it sucked. I have a great premise, but I really didn't have an actual story. No plot.

So I pulled out my Blake Snyder Beat Sheet--which first I had to find in one of my backup hard drives, then had to adjust so I could get it to fit all on one page again--and realized I hadn't plotted anything in so long, I couldn't remember what all the beats meant. So I had to hunt up the book, which I had loaned to the son who is doing some writing, and he had to hunt it up from the depths of his desk. I re-read the Beat Sheet chapter, then I re-read the rest of the book, kind of in reverse order. Then I looked at the sheet I'd printed out again, and realized that I really and truly did not have any plot at all whatsoever, because I had NOTHING to put on the sheet. I had my premise, and my characters, and beyond that? Nada.

I mean, I knew where I thought the thing should start, and I kinda had an idea of a couple of things that might happen, but where exactly on the beat sheet should they go? Were they the 'break into two' or maybe the B-Story, or what? No clue.

I stared at that sheet for a while longer, before it occurred to me that maybe the Tarot cards could help. They certainly couldn't hurt. My main deck is in my red bag in the living room and I didn't want to go get it, but I have a duplicate deck (I use the Shakespearean Tarot--those cards in the image above are some of them) on a shelf in my office, so I grabbed that one. And wham!

Opening image was the 8 of Sceptres/Wands. Things are changing quickly, good things coming. Okay. That will work. Then the theme--which I did not have a clue about-- And up comes Strength. Which totally suits the story as well--strength of character is more important than strength of body... Then for the set-up, I got The Empress, Reversed. The Empress is all about being a woman. A woman of authority. (It has other meanings too, but...) And since my main character is a woman whose very womanliness has been taken away from her at the beginning of the story... You see where I'm going here?

Okay, as I got further into the Beat Sheet, some of the cards weirded me out. For instance, the Final Scene card came up as the 5 of Orbs/Cups, which is all about loss and grief. I'm writing a romance--we don't do sad endings. But, on the other hand, I'm plotting a novella, which I plan to be one of a series which will make up a larger story. If I make the ending about loss, but make it optimistic--a "this is bad now, but it's not the way it will stay"...maybe it will work.

And the happy thing for me is, if the market I'm writing it for doesn't work, there's plenty of other places it can go. And I can always draw another card, if I don't like the one I got. Or just change the ending. But I kind of like it now ... the ending I have in mind.

So, I am up to Day 3, since I've actually written a lot of words today. They may not be part of the actual manuscript, but I wrote them, and they progress the story, so I'm gonna count them!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Connecting with your characters - redux

Or "trying again." 'Cause I'm not real sure what "redux" means. (Wait--let me go look it up...)

Redux means "brought back" so it fits. I've brought the topic back. Because I didn't get around to coming back and writing about it yesterday. See, I had the dayjob till almost 4 p.m., then I had to drive to the medical school health clinic for a dermatologist appointment, then I had to get my head examined (literally) and my brain frozen (sorta--it was a spot on my forehead they froze), and then it was time to change to go downtown to sing. I sang till 8:30 p.m., got home at close to 9, went out with the fella and the boy to Salsa's for supper--it was mariachi night--the mariachi band was playing, and they were good! (I had Pollo del Mar--chicken with a seafood sauce that had crab meat, shrimp and crawfish in it--YUM!) Anyway, by the time we got home, I was exhausted, and I just didn't make it. I didn't get any writing done, so I have to start over on my day-counting, and I sure didn't get back here to write anything on what I wanted to write about.

I'm going to try to make Wednesdays about Writing. But if you've been following my blog for very long, you probably know that I'm not very good about being organized. I do pretty good for a while, then something happens (like getting my head frozen) (The spot's not cancerous or anything, it's just big and brown and scaly and itchy, and I want it gone.), and my good intentions fall completely apart. I will do my VERY best, but... It's me.

So. Have you ever gotten one of those rejections? The ones that say "I just couldn't connect with your characters"? If you're a writer, I'm sure you've received rejections, but if you're lucky, yours said something besides "Thanks, but no thanks." Because then you can do something about it--for the next submission, because unless the rejection says "I'd be happy to look at this again, after revisions," you don't send this same thing back to the editor. You're better off writing something new anyway. But you're also better off writing characters your reader can connect to. How do you do this, you ask? Well...

I'm sure you've heard "Your characters can do anything they want, as long as you motivate it." Right? The problem is, sometimes that motivation doesn't come through on the page. Writing classes usually say "Less is more," and "Show, don't tell." And yes, that is important. But sometimes, less is just less. And you're showing all you can, and the reader just can't see. Because there's nothing really there to see but words. Little chicken scratches on paper.

This is where what I call "The Novelist's Secret Weapon" comes in. See, today's writer of fiction is ... yeah, I think the word I want is handicapped. So much of the entertainment we consume is visual. It's movies and video games and television. Yes, it's all stories, but the stories are acted out. We're seeing the story, and yes, hearing it too. And writers tend to write their novels almost as if they were screenplays. Oh, they're in a prose format--but all you get is action and dialogue. Or maybe the action stops for some backstory or other exposition. Problem is--movies and television have actors, and we've been reading body language and facial expressions for thousands of years longer than we've been reading words. So you need more.

The Novelist's Secret Weapon is that you can give your reader more. We can crawl inside the character's head and share what they're thinking and what they're feeling and how they react to the events in the story. If you're not giving us something from inside your character's head every few paragraphs, you're not giving us anything to connect with. We need that thought and reaction and emotion in order to connect.

Here's how I did it in my first book with Tor, New Blood:
“I want to do it today,” Amanusa said. “I want you to take the blood and put it in the porridge pot, and in the tea kettle. Those who don't eat porridge drink tea, and those who don't drink tea--”

“Yes, Miss Whitcomb.” Jax waited, bent over in the doorway.

“Can you do it without anyone noticing?”

“Of course. Yvaine often had me deliver the blood to the vessel.”

“Don't stand there blocking the light,” she snapped, irritated for no reason and annoyed because of it. “Come in or go out, but don't stand in the doorway.”

“Of course, Miss Whitcomb.” He left the tent.

“No, come back.”

Obedient as always, he returned and waited for her command. Amanusa wished she knew what to ask of him.

“You think I'm wrong, don't you?” She didn't know she was going to say it until the words were out. “You don't think I should do it.”
 I highlighted the internal things, so you wouldn't miss them. You don't have to put the thoughts/reactions in every paragraph. It's better if you don't, in fact. But whenever something happens your character would have a reaction to--show their reaction.

Here's a short excerpt from China Mieville's Kraken:
"The boy peeped. He looked at the bone apatosaurus that Billy had seemed to greet. Or maybe, Billy thought, he was looking at the glyptodon beyond it. All the children had a favorite inhabitant of the Natural History Museum's first hall, and the glyptodon, that half-globe armadillo giant, had been Billy's." 
The blue is direct thought. The green is narrative that conveys something only the character would know. But you need to keep it up, connecting the reader with the characters through their thoughts, knowledge and emotions, the way they react to things. Here, Mieville shows Billy connecting with the little boy at the museum, and that makes us connect with him, at least a bit, by showing Billy as a little boy himself. One who liked dinosaurs.

Do you see? One way to help the reader connect with the character is by showing what is going on inside the character--who they are deep down inside. We can't see, literally, what the character is doing, but we have that Secret Weapon. We can show what's inside their brains. And if we don't use it, we're going to lose--not the weapon, but the reader.

Now--it may be that you have plenty of thought, emotion and reaction, but the reader still can't connect because, well, your character just isn't coming off as likable. *raises hand* Been there, done that, wore out the T-shirt. And I know how to fix that too. But that's a topic for another day.

I'll have to write something in a little bit, so I can start over on Day 1. I wrote enough on Tuesday that if I had decided beforehand to take Wednesday off, and it wasn't too close to the last day I took off, I could have... but I didn't decide beforehand, and it's less than a week, so I have to start over. Ugh. Yeah, I'm all whiney. I'll come back and add to this after I write.


Good thing I don't really care for a lot of the television shows the fella likes to watch. I got my words written. Let's see if I can make it to 20 this time...

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Connecting with your characters

What it means when a rejection letter says "I just couldn't connect with your character" and how to fix it. I'm going to write about this, but later today. 'kay? I'll be back. I didn't mean to publish this yet. Oops!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Holiday Fireworks

Yesterday was the Fourth of July--America's Independence Day. I had a holiday, and I was extremely lazy.

Well, I felt lazy, anyway. The fella went downtown to ride in the parade--too hot for me--and I put some pork on to barbecue, and mixed up the potato salad we'd boiled potatoes and eggs for the previous night. I did some other stuff too, but can't remember what it is now, because by the time the fella got back from the parade, I was goofing off. And I did that most of the day. I'm very good at goofing off.

The boy and a couple of his friends came down about 2 p.m. and we all had lunch, then they went out to the beach--taking the doggies. (The friends brought a friend for Dolly the princess pitbull to play with.) They all exhausted themselves--humans and doggies alike. Somewhere in there, I took a break from goofing off to take a nap.

Then we had supper (the barbecued pork and potato salad), and went down to the seawall for the fireworks. You can see the edge of the boy, and the jetty from which the fireworks were shot off beyond him, out in the Gulf. There were a lot more people on the beach by the time the fireworks started. Also, it was dark. You could see the lights from all the boats out on the horizon, waiting to head into port, not to mention the sport fishing boats that had come way inshore to watch the show. But I didn't take any pictures after dark. Because it was dark!

It was a good show. Not as fabulous as the one for the Hotel Galvez's 100th birthday, but a good show. I was just glad they actually had a fireworks show. All home fireworks got banned, because of our extreme drought. However, I figured they wouldn't stop Galveston's fireworks, because they set them off over water. It's the cotton-pickin' Gulf of Mexico. Then there's sand, then the concrete of the seawall and street. A long way before any sparks reach anything that might burn.

There were more people at this year's fireworks show than in all the previous years since Hurricane Ike. It was a really big crowd. And the kids saw "The Little Couple." The one from the TLC TV show, who apparently live in Houston, and came down to Galveston for the  fireworks. Or maybe for the whole weekend. :) I didn't see them, so you won't see me on TV, but hey--I was there!

And today is DAY 15. (Yesterday was Day 14. I wrote double on Sunday, remember?) I didn't want to watch whatever it is the fella has on television, so I came back and downloaded pictures from my camera, and I wrote. I had to stop, though, because I need to figure out the rules for my society. There is magic--but does everybody know about it? Do they all believe in it? I think it's fading, but just how open is it? Yeah, I know. I should have decided this stuff earlier. But I didn't, so...

I am still reading THE NATIVE STAR by M.K. Hobson. I also went to the library this afternoon (took all the books back on Sunday) because hey, it's only about 3 blocks from the post office, and I had to go get the mail. So I also started DREAMS OF A DARK PRINCE, or DARK DREAMS OF A PRINCE, or ... what is the name of that Kresley Cole book? DREAMS OF A DARK WARRIOR! Yeah. I started it and I'm still reading the other book. I got two books off the "new" shelves, so I'll need to read them next. But maybe I can finish the Hobson book first.

Five more days at the newspaper. I need to write an item for the newspaper's newsletter... Hmm.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Beach Band performance

They changed the Tuesday night band concert to Sunday this week, in honor of the Fourth. Galveston Beach Band performs every Tuesday in summer--except this week, they had their band concert on Sunday, and invited our church choir to come sing a "Salute to Armed Forces." (Yes, this is the band, at it's previous performance.) Fortunately, we sang the medley in church this a.m., otherwise I'd never have known how the Coast Guard Marching Song goes. But I know now. They lined us all up in front of the band shell, put those of us who usually sing in the church band in front--and then put the  mike in front of us. Made me nervous. Anyway, it went pretty well, though my voice decided to be a little wobbly. Oh well. It was fun.

We waved at the duck tour when they went by, and watched the kids play maracas and ring the bell they'd salvaged. The trombones and tuba came forward and played "Them Basses," which is a very cool march. (If you can play a scale, you can pretty much play that march--if you can play it fast enough.) The beach band uniform is Hawaiian shirts--tonight's trombonists didn't have the guy on the left, but the tuba player came up front with them. He's good.

Today was a very lazy day. I took a nap. I also wrote. Enough that I can take tomorrow off. Tomorrow is the holiday, and we have company coming, so I thought I might not have as much time to write then.

DAY 13 is done. I had a good time singing, had a good time at the concert. I enjoyed my nap, too.

I've read UNLOCKED by Courtney Milan, & enjoyed it. I read MAGIC SLAYS by Ilona Andrews (didn't know IA was a writing team...), and I'm now reading THE NATIVE STAR by ... I forgot. I'll have to look it up. by M.K. Hobson. I was remembering the initials right, but not the last name. So, there's the list.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Holiday weekend

And I've made it to Day 11 and Day 12.

I'm through the "opening" and to the explaining part. Exposition is always boring, but maybe I can figure out some action to go with it.

Yesterday, I barely squeaked in under the line, but still got my words written and a little more. Today, I woke very early with a headache, and went ahead and got up. Then I went out for a walk on the seawall--Folks were already filling the beach up. I'm wondering if there's a beach volleyball tournament this weekend, because I saw a women's team of some kind working out on the beach, except the balls didn't look like volleyballs. Water's still green all the way inshore, and the wind is minimal, which means it's perfect for swimming. I'll have to see if I can drag the boy out to swim with me.

Anyway, after I got home and cleaned up, I sat down to write, and I've got enough I can take tomorrow off again.

The fella has started cleaning house. He's already brought two stacks of things into the office...which is a huge mess, but who knows when that will be amended. I think I'm going to catch up on the sleep I missed this morning so we can go see a movie this afternoon. I'm still wanting to see Super 8. And yeah, I'll have to kick in on the cleaning too. Sigh. It's kinda like "When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy," except it's "When Dad's cleaning, everybody's cleaning."

I guess I ought to pitch in and clean...I need to find my camera. I did figure out how to turn on the phone's camera... But in celebration of actually writing a blog post on my home computer, where I have pictures. here's the picture the older son made me take in Pittsburgh of him with Heinz Field in the background. It's the yellowish bit above the yellow arch of the bridge. This is the son who wants to be a coach. He's into sports, just a little... ;)

And yes, we're planning a very lazy holiday weekend... About all we really have planned is going to the fireworks show Monday night. They shoot them from one of the rock piers out over the Gulf of Mexico, so there's not much worry about fires in our drought. All other fireworks have been banned.

Oh, I'm keeping track of books here too. This morning, I finally finished REBEL by Zoe Archer. I bought a couple-three or so e-books last night. Need to put them on the reader so I can read them. And maybe go to the library... I've read all my library books.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Day 10

Can you believe it? I've actually made it 10 days, writing every day. In longhand, the way I write fiction.

Yesterday, it was iffy. I went to the grocery store after work. (And actually topped $200 in my grocery bill!) (I don't go very often, because I don't like to.) By the time I got home and unloaded the car (mostly--left the cokes for the fella to bring in), and cooled off (Boy! it was hot yesterday!!) and put the food away, and decided what I wanted to think about maybe cooking for supper, the afternoon was gone. Then it was time to actually cook supper.

I did a Thai-style beef stirfry with snow peas & red pepper & a peanut sauce that could have used more hot sauce, with noodles. I'd bought the snow peas after I made this the first time, and needed to use them and the fresh cilantro before they got old. Cilantro really has to be used fresh. A lot of herbs still have flavor when they're dried, but not cilantro. Parsley is probably the same way--except I've never really been able to taste much besides "green" when I taste parsley.

Anyway, after supper, I was sitting around reading about the Best & Worst Legislators in the Texas Monthly (where politics is a spectator sport), and it got later, and later--and finally, it was to the point of: "If you do not go in there Right Now and write SOMETHING, you will have to start over again, counting your days."

So I went. I wrote. At least 100 words. In my rather small and crabbed longhand, 100 words is about half a page, if there's not too much dialogue. I had dialogue, so I wrote more than half a page.Yes, I'm still in the middle--well, more the beginning--of the love scene. But people talk then, too, you know.

I also read a book yesterday: finished A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Libba Bray. I've pretty much been trying to decide what I think about it since.

I work at keeping up with the books at GoodReads, but I'm usually 4 to 6 (or more) books behind, there, because I try to write a little something about the book so I can hopefully remember it when I look it up, and remember that I've read it. Maybe I'll just list them here... Some of my books are on the little widget in the sidebar, but they're more random, not necessarily the most recently read. I don't know how to tell it to show the recent reads. Sigh.